3g vs 4g

6 June 2016

Wireless telecommunication networks have drastically changed in the last few years. With technology advancing, cell phones and other mobile devices have become a part of our everyday functions for businesses and other personal aspects. But also with that advancement, networks such as 3G and 4G have exploded onto the market and competitors such as Verizon and AT&T have led the way in cornering the market with new devices and services.

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When consumers are in demand of services, they often do not know the benefits, similarities, and differences between 3G vs. 4G networks nor do they understand the capabilities, speeds, compatibilities, and availability of services such as 4G LTE, WiMAX, and WiBro. We will compare and contrast these services as well as explain the reason why competition has become fierce in these markets as well as explain how leaders such as Verizon has become an industry giant of 4G networking.

3G vs. 4G
Can you hear me now? That you used to be a popular slogan for Verizon, one of the largest cell phone carriers in the world. Now, with technology evolving and changing every day, cell phones are quickly becoming a necessity in today’s world. Cellular telecommunication carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have lead the way using 3G and 4G technology to give customers innovation at their fingertips.

Once upon a time, all cell phones capabilities were very limited. People realized the convenience of being able to communicate on the go, and began to utilize cell phones in their everyday lives. With the demand for cellular service and the demand for data increasing, the telecommunication industry gave birth to 3G and later 4G technology. “3G networks, which stands for third generation technology, support multimedia and broadband services, do so over a wider range (distance), and at faster speeds than the prior generations-1G and 2G. 3g networks have far greater ranges because they use large satellite connections that connect to telecommunication towers” (Turban/Volonino, p96). 4G or fourth generation technology is a step beyond 3G with faster speeds for data. “New generations usually bring new base technologies, more network capacity for more data per user, and the potential for better voice quality, too” (Segan, 2012, February 24).

Consumers are often confused about the similarities and differences in 3G and 4G network services. In part, most people just know that it requires a new device to access the network and aim to buy the newest phone on the market. However, it is much more to this wonderful technology. For starters, you do not have to be at home to have access to internet services as consumers can access these networks wherever they have coverage with smartphones, tablets, IPads, or other mobile devices. “Third-generation mobile networks, or 3G, came to the U.S. in 2003. With minimum consistent Internet speeds of 144Kbps, they were supposed to bring “mobile broadband.”

There are now so many varieties of 3G, though, that a “3G” connection can get your Internet speeds anywhere from 400Kbps to more than ten times that” (Segan, 2012, February 24). “4G technologies represent the latest stage in the evolution of wireless data technologies. 4G delivers average rates of 3 Mbps or higher” (Turban/Volonino, p96). The data throughput for 3G networks are up to 3.1Mbps with an average speed range between 0.5 to 1.5 Mbps. The data throughput for 4G networks has the potential to reach speeds estimated at a range of 100 to 300 Mbps. 3G networks utilize services and applications of CDMA 2000, UMTS, and EDGE which is radio transmission technology while 4G cruises on Wimax2 and LTE-Advance. “3G has enhanced or made possible a myriad of additional applications such as mobile video, secure mobile ecommerce, location-based services, mobile gaming and audio on demand” (Segan, 2012, Feburary 24).

The network architecture for 3G technology is described as wide area cell based networks. This technology is based on circuit switching. Once a connection is made between the source and the destination, the path of the signal along the nodes is dedicated and exclusive. Circuit switching is older technology that was used for telephone calls” (Turban/Volonino, p94). In other words, this circuit only allows one connection at the time. The 4g network technology is based on the wireless LAN (Local Area Network). It relies on the packet switching signal. “The path of the signal is digital and is neither dedicated nor exclusive” (Turban/Volonino, p95). 4g networks are much faster and offer higher speeds for data without the limits of 3G. “Instead, 4G is based purely on the packet-based Internet Protocol (IP)” (Turban/Volonino, p96).

There are different types of networks in which 4g technology can accessed. These are 4G LTE, WiMAX, and 4G WiBro. With 4G LTE, which is short for fourth generation long term evolution, which enables faster data speeds than that of 3G networks for phones and other mobile devices. 4G LTE networks can download data at speeds between 5 and 12 megabits per second and can be over 5 times faster than that of 3G. 4G LTE is backward compatible with existing GSM and HSPA networks and often considered to be true 4G technology. “WiMAX stands for the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access” (Diffen., 2013 July 24). “WiMAX is an 802.16-based broadband wireless metropolitan area network (MAN) access standard that can deliver voice and data services at distances of up to 30 miles, without the expense of cable or the distance limitations of DSL” (Turban/Volonino, p100). It is often considered the alternative to DSL and cable networks. WiMAX is also considered to be backwards compatible with other existing radio wave signals and can handle speeds of up to 70 megabits per second.

The biggest quality of WiMAX is the potential for this service to cover large amounts of distance of close to 30 miles for wireless access. This is a wonderful addition to complement the speed as well. Next, WiBro is short for Wireless Broadband, and it was developed and launched in South Korea. “The base station of Wibro provides data 30 Mbits to 50 Mbits per carrier and conceal 1 to 5km radius permit for the use of moveable internet usage for moving devices it provide 120 km/h (74.5 miles/h).While the coverage range of wimax is 70 kilometers along 4km radius.” (Diffen., 2013 July 24). “Basically, the Korean standard chose to accept a specific mobile WiMAX iteration of 802.16e, rather than any future version that included backwards compatibility to fixed wireless 802.16 systems.” (Diffen., 2013 July 24). In other words, WiBro is simple but very effective with a wide range of capabilities for users.

Cellular telecommunication carriers that have invested in 4G technology have faced aggressive competition in the last few years. For an example, leading carriers such as AT&T and Verizon have gone head to head in the race to make claims of possessing the largest, quickest, and most reliable 4G network. Both carriers seemed to have their hands in the pie. However, Verizon seemed to be at the top of the market as they have extended their reach into larger markets with their 4G technology. “The Verizon Wireless LTE network covered more than 200 million potential customers at the end of last year, the company said in January. AT&T, based in Dallas, said that month that it reached 74 million would-be users with LTE. “Competitively, Verizon Wireless’s more extensive LTE footprint gives it a modest marketing advantage,” James Ratcliffe, an analyst at Barclays Capital, wrote in a report yesterday” (Khrif, 2012, March 9). In other words, Verizon has more coverage in more markets than that of AT&T and therefore has the capability of servicing more consumers with their 4G LTE footprint.

This gives Verizon and edge as it covers over 500 markets while AT&T numbers are lower with 326. Competition has remained stiff because of the demand for reliable voice coverage and faster internet access. With smartphones becoming more and more advanced with applications, the need for 4G is growing. This means earning major profits and loyal customers for wireless carriers such as Verizon and AT&T. Consumers have the luxury of being able to connect to the internet with amazingly fast speeds and download music, movies, and stream videos instantly as well as access GPS systems, emails, games, and communicate whenever or wherever they may be. This opens the door for new possibilities for businesses and other areas of people’s personal lives.

In conclusion, cellular telecommunications networks are evolving every day. With the technology of 3G and 4G networks, it enables users to enjoy the benefits of faster speeds and expands the capabilities of applications and services. Though there are different variations of 4G networks, the competition can be quite fierce to obtain the highest performance and enhance capabilities. Therefore, competitors strive to stay on the cutting edge of technology waiting for the next breakthrough. When you combine technology, demand, and opportunity, the only result can be innovation. Now, we will see what the future holds for 5G.

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